ROME: Italy's government is studying a plan to create a single ultra-fast broadband network that could initially be majority-owned by phone incumbent Telecom Italia (TIM) but would grant equal access to all market players, a person close to the matter told Reuters.
Rome is trying to broker a deal between former phone monopoly TIM and Open Fiber, which is controlled by utility Enel and state lender CDP, to merge their fibre assets and create a national champion.
But differences over issues such as governance and regulation have created a deadlock.
TIM, which has both a retail and a wholesale arm, has repeatedly said it wants to keep control of any merged entity with Open Fiber, while European regulations favour the adoption of a non-vertically integrated model outside TIM's control.
To end the stalemate, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri asked TIM and Enel to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the end of July, Reuters exclusively reported on Jul 11.
Governance of the future single network should be structured to guarantee "its independence from the incumbent", said the source asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The source said Rome was drawing on the Openreach model used in the United Kingdom while at the same time keeping network ownership structure open to other operators.
"The next few days will be crucial," the source said.
Openreach is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT which runs Britains nationwide broadband network as a legally separate entity. BT and rivals such as Sky and TalkTalk use its lines to provide broadband to their customers.
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